20 Ways That Dave Ramsey’s Blog Turned My Stomach Today

I found this through a tweet from my friend Rachel Stone: Dave Ramsey posted a list of things rich people supposedly do while poor people do not. I’ll give you just a sample from the list, along with my thoughts on them. (I could have done this all the way through the list, but it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Besides, reading all 20 might turn your stomach as much as it did mine.)

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. [Ever heard of a food desert, Dave Ramsey? Those on lower incomes have significant barriers to access high nutrition/low calorie food. Wealthier people can jump in the car and drive to get it.]

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% for poor people. [Are you seriously suggesting that poor people don’t listen to audio books on their commute because they’re poor? How about comparing how each wealth group gets to work, assuming the poorer people even have jobs to commute to.]

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% for poor. [Don’t you dare say what’s on your mind. Only poor people do that!]

Put aside the fact that Ramsey gives no support for the percentages (and I’m tempted to just say that 63% of all percentages are made up on the spot anyway, or just rely on the view of statistics popularized by Mark Twain). What’s really galling is how even if the numbers were valid they’re still worthless. It’s an instance of how statistics without context can be dangerous.

First, how is this list supposed to minister to those most in need? All it really says is that if you have some money, here’s a way to get more of it. Not a single item on the list translates into a reasonably effective action item for those who are truly destitute.

Second, each of these items is hurtful. Hey all you poor people: you wouldn’t be so poor if you just learned to keep your traps shut! (Item 11.) And besides, what does the list’s author even mean by saying what’s “on their mind”?

Third, I can’t imagine Jesus saying a single one of those items even if they were true. Not a single one. Jesus said he came to comfort those in need. He is the doctor who heals the sick. “A bruised reed he will not break.” (Matthew 12:20.)

I used to be neutral about Dave Ramsey’s ministry. A lot of people have said his budgeting workshops and finance books have helped them, but I figured they just weren’t my style.

I’m no longer neutral about his ministry. I’m praying for him to stop this type of hurtful enterprise, and until he does I’m also praying that people will discern for themselves whether he’s a source of sound advice or not.

Because contrary to what the inclusion of that list on his site strongly implies, Jesus did not teach us how to be rich in the things of this world. He taught us to place our hope in him, and enjoy the heavenly riches of his inheritance.

This leads us to a response that is very different from Ramsey’s call to amass wealth while denigrating those who are less well off. As Paul was finishing his letter to the Galatians, he emphasized that they should focus on things above and not pursue worldly pleasures because that only leads to destruction. And how did he tell them to avoid those earthly pleasures? By looking to the good of everyone around us:

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:20.)

The sad truth is that when Ramsey posted that list on his blog for his thousands of readers to see he not only did not do good to others, he especially did not do good to the people in the family of  believers who look to him for advice.

There’s an easy fix to this, of course. He can delete the list.*


*Mr. Ramsey later deleted his post but left up a link to another article he wrote with five of the twenty “habits” discussed.


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113 Responses to 20 Ways That Dave Ramsey’s Blog Turned My Stomach Today

  1. I have noticed that some Christians place their hope in their budget or in how they eat. Pharisee-ism? Is there such a word? Yet Col. 3:16 says to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

    • Tim says:

      Trust in money or God, Jesus said you are going to end up serving somebody whether you know it or not.

      • Kelly says:

        The point of Ramsey’s workshop is debt management and future planning so that your attention is aimed at the other issues at life, rather than the shackles of debt.

        • You do realize that a system that allows usury (aka lending money for interest), the worship of money (or market principals, since it is all the same thing) and abusing the weak are major sins in the Bible. Funny how some people who claim to honor the Bible, yet spit on it in the same breath.

        • Tim says:

          Thanks, Michael. It’s the fact that these practices abuse the weak that makes them sinful, too. God is really clear on not taking advantage of other people’s misfortunes, such as not having enough money or other resources.

    • Seth says:

      Is it Pharisee-ism to be responsible with money? I think alot of Christians just label everything they don’t like to Pharisee-ism. The Pharisees were legalistic not pragmatic, but they also didn’t know the scriptures or the power of God. I don’t see what that has to do with relying on a budget to get out of debt. You’re not going to pray away your debt and I think God would want you to repay those you borrow from. If you don’t have a budget you’re flying blind.

      • Tim says:

        “Is it Pharisee-ism to be responsible with money?” No, it’s not. That’s not what the list of 20 items is getting at though. It’s falsely suggesting that poor people can be like rich people if only they’d do things on the list.

      • skyflier06 says:

        “The Pharisees were legalistic not pragmatic, but they also didn’t know the scriptures…”

        ^^^Are you kidding Seth? The Pharisees could recite scripture from memory backwards and forward!

  2. Jeannie says:

    This stuff would be funny if it weren’t so insulting. “63% of wealthy parents make their children read 2 or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% for poor”??? (“Mommy, can I go out to play with the other rich children in our gated community?” “Well, have you finished Machiavelli’s The Prince, dear?”)

    You used exactly the right word for Ramsey’s stats, Tim: worthless.

    • Tim says:

      And insulting is another exactly right word for it, Jeannie.

    • Kelly says:

      Education research shows that children that read more outside of school are more successful in school and down the road; there’s no refuting that. Reading non-fiction encourages a love for learning, and a love for learning is fed by parents.

      • Sara says:

        This still assumes there is equal opportunity and access to reading material and reading spaces. Many low-income neighborhoods do not have well-stocked libraries or any libraries at all. I would read less too if it took me an hour and half bus ride to get to a library. There is also the problem of time. Wealthy individuals often have far more leisure time for activities like reading. I agree with you, Kelly, that reading is a vital part of children’s development. I wish all school aged children had a safe place to find books and read to their hearts content.

        What troubles me about the stats in Ramsey’s article is the lack of situational understanding in almost every single statement. It’s not always a matter of values (do “poor people” value reading?) but a matter of options (do “poor people” have the access and time to read?).

        • Tim says:

          Exactly right, Sara. On top of that, ramsey and his source never define “poor people” anyway. But let’s just go with it and see what it gets us:

          “Poor people, start listening to audio books as you drive to work on your commute. Poor people, get your kids to hang out at the library more. Poor people, buy more fresh fruits and vegetables at the supermarket. Oh and most importantly, poor people, stop speaking your minds!”

          As if any of these are reasonable for the vast majority of people who live at or near the poverty level. There is nothing uplifting, encouraging or constructive for “poor people” on the list. Just a bunch of happy-clappy tripe to help those with money who want to feel better about themselves

        • I grew up poor, and yet I had access to books. My parents were still able to instill in me a love for reading even though we never went to the library because we didn’t have a car to get there in and had to take the bus. I got books from school. I feel like some of you want to make every excuse possible for some hypothetical person, who is an extremely specific situation, for why they are not at all responsible for their situation and have no way out. Why argue so hard against the point that a great number of people are in financial hardship not because they have less opportunities, but because of bad habits and lack of self-discipline? THAT is the point of the article and one of DR’s main points in his work.
          Again – bad choice of words? Absolutely. Disdain for the poor and praise of the rich? I don’t think so.

    • Smg says:

      You don’t NEED to live in a gated community to read…it simply takes RESPONSIBILITY…..and I’m am NOT a dave ramsey fan

  3. janehinrichs says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this blog Tim. I have issue with all the so-called Christian finance junk out there. We ought to be wise in our financial practices – -yes. I do not disagree. But focusing on it, controlling it ourselves, as you say “amassing wealth” is not at all what Jesus calls us to. Thank you Tim.

  4. Like you, I used to be neutral about Dave Ramsey. Then one day I heard his radio show in which he told a couple who were trying to pay off their debt that for the next year they would “have no life” as they saved money. Anyone who thinks that money is necessary for “having a life” has a skewed view of the Gospel.

    Great post!

    • Tim says:

      So true. Life is what we have in Christ, not what we have in our bank account.

      • Kelly says:

        You’re both off-base. The implication was that all of the money that they might have spent on out-to-eat and entertainment would best be steered to paying off the debt. They would “have no life”, but they would unshackle themselves from years of debt and interest. Maybe the bigger issue is that the couple only views “having a life” as that they have money to do “things”.

  5. lauradroege says:

    I went and read the entire list, and got riled up. Then I read some of the comments regarding the list, and got really riled up, the stomach-churning type of riled up. (I really should stop reading comments on certain types of blogs!)

    About half the comments seemed to agree with you: this is offensive. The other half defended the “statistics” as “facts” (seeming to disregard that stats can be skewed and misinterpreted, depending on the methodology used in analyzing/collecting data) and said that Ramsey wasn’t “passing judgement” on poor people; he was only presenting facts. I went to what Ramsey claimed was his source, and though I didn’t look at the site carefully, I didn’t immediately see where this information came from.

    As someone who has been spoiled rotten/totally blessed by God financially (depending on one’s view!), I found this list offensive for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. It doesn’t help the poor break the cycle of poverty. I don’t know exactly what does, but it certainly isn’t a “I’m-better-than-you-because-I-do-these-20-things” attitude.

    • Tim says:

      I thought the same, Laura. There is nothing in that Ramsey post that offers any comfort or help to those with less. It’s all about how the wealthy are better. Could anything be more contrary to the Good News of the Gospel?

    • Kelly says:

      Why can’t a list like this be viewed as a prescription to the road out of a life of financial stress? Encouraging your children to read more at home, thinking more before speaking your mind, committing 10 minutes a day to reading something that would add to a skill that could lead to a better job, etc. I can understand a person’s view that this was poorly worded, but if you believe Ramsey’s intent was to insult, then I believe you’re off-base.

      • Melody says:

        Kelly, I don’t think that most people feel Dave Ramsey was intentionally trying to insult by reposting this list. But that doesn’t excuse the list. Per rule #11, clearly he should have thought before he posted. He must be one of the 6% of the wealthy who just let it fly and to hell with the consequences. Not so wise. The list was far beyond simply being poorly worded. A person would have to be extremely dense (maybe living in a bubble created by wealth) to not understand how hurtful and misleading this list was.

      • Tim says:

        I don’t think he intended to insult anyone. I think the list is extremely offensive none the less, and he should delete it.

  6. I wish you had done the whole list but regarding all it means is if you have some money here’s how to get more of it — exactly how Dave Ramsay built his own wealth. It’s the worst sort of pyramid schemes.

    • Tim says:

      Believe me, Karen, I considered it. Taken in parts or as a whole, the list is a huge idol.

      • Kelly says:

        Consider the shackles of debt: if you allow large companies to take advantage of your willingness/need to buy more than you can afford, aren’t YOU actually who the companies worship? They’ll fall over backwards to keep you enslaved to them if you keep feeding the machine.

  7. Marybeth Baggett says:

    One of the most offensive aspects of the list is the implication that the causal chain runs from habits toward economic status, not the other way. Thank you for posting your thoughts, Tim.

    • Tim says:

      Yes, as if it’s reading that makes people rich as opposed to rich people having more time to read.

    • We must admit though, that although some people are poor because they are disenfranchised, other people are poor because of poor decision making and bad habits. I think we can’t just discount what he’s saying here because there are exceptions to it. Shouldn’t it give people in these situations hope, if we tell them that they can get out of their situation with some determination and focused discipline – by changing their habits, not just by winning the lottery?

      • Mythodrome says:

        I have been in that situation, am still not really out of it, and I will tell you why Ramsey’s list does not give me hope. Most of those things are beyond my reach until I have money to pay for them. Ramsey’s list is like saying the crowing rooster makes the sun rise. It is useless. All it proves to me is that Ramsey has no idea what he’s talking about, and that when I get back on my feet I should definitely not listen to his financial advice either.

        FWIW it is because of people like you, Longmont Pastor, that I turned my back on Christianity long ago. There is no compassion in your heart. Just like your whole religion. And I know you absolutely do not care that I think that… which absolutely proves my point.

        • Tim says:

          I think you’ve hit on the problem with a list like that, Mythodrome. It describes what rich people get to do, not what they did to become rich.

          As for ascribing a lack of compassion to anyone’s heart or decreeing that someone does not care, that is outside the comment guidelines for this blog. It’s best to avoid these attacks on character while commenting on the Train Wreck, thanks!


          P.S. Christianity is about Jesus, not about how his people behave. I hope you will seek him out, not Christianity as a belief system or religion.

  8. Thank you for writing this! I’ve had issues with Dave Ramsey for a long time, but I’ve had a hard time putting my finger on why. I think it has something to do with the mindset that if you just work hard enough, and do X, Y, and Z, then God will “bless” you with wealth. It’s a subtle form of the prosperity gospel. I don’t think we have that much control. I also feel that there’s a subtle message that financial wealth is “salvation.” That’s the whole goal of some of these Christian financial gurus. Acquiring wealth is the goal.

    I wrote about this in my book “Rock-Bottom Blessings” but I didn’t mention Ramsey by name. Now I wish I had….

    • Tim says:

      Whether you mention someone by name or not, Karen, the important thing is to do what you did and point people to reliance on God and not their pocketbook. Thank you for all your work on this!

    • Is he really preaching a prosperity gospel, or is he teaching people how to get out of debt – and not really trying to preach the gospel at all? It seems to me that Dave Ramsey does not consider himself a pastor, but that he’s focused only on personal financial consulting.
      I had always been wary of him actually, until I listened to an audiobook of Total Money Makeover last week. I felt encouraged and hopeful about my own situation after listening to it, and I felt that he gave me some really good advice about how to get out of debt.
      The question is whether he considers financial independence the end-all be-all of human existence, or if this is just his particular niche where he is sharing his expertise on a certain topic. I also was impressed with how he encourages people to be generous with their money and to budget giving in as a top priority. He even said that there are only a few uses of money – one of them is to bless others and further the work of God. I don’t see anything wrong with what he’s doing.

      • Josh says:

        I believe if he has not strayed into the pool of the prosperity gospel, he is at least sitting on the edge with his feet dangling in the water. He says things like “manage your money well and God will give you more of it”. Sure, we are called to be good stewards of our money but I don’t see any obligation on God’s part to give me more just because I clipped coupons and bought something used. He also has said things like (and this is a paraphrase) “Just as you love your kids and want things for them, God loves you and wants you to have nice things”.

        I personally know many missionaries carrying the Gospel to those in far off places. In preparation to go, most of them sold off almost all of their worldly possessions. They work for very modest salaries and definitely would not be considered successful or prosperous by the world’s standards. It would seem, by what Ramsey has written, he would not consider them successful either. He writes “there is a direct correlation between your…character in Christ…and your propensity to build wealth…” Pastors, by and large, live on modest salaries at least compared to similar management positions in the secular world. Many pastors in smaller churches are bi-vocational. Would Dave Ramsey look at a bi-vocational pastor working an extra job to make a living while he faithfully serves his congregation and tell him “Sorry Pastor, I guess your character in Christ is lacking. Straighten that out and the money will come rolling in”.

        Also, Ramsey lists a book called the Monk and the Merchant as required reading for his team. He has even written the foreword for the book. With that endorsement I picked it up a few months ago thinking it would be worth checking out. I couldn’t get past the first couple of chapters. It leaned so far towards prosperity gospel and twisted Scripture so badly it was borderline heresy. That alone raised warning signals in my mind and then he hosted Joel Osteen on his show this week, followed by the now infamous list he posted. Yes, Dave Ramsey is moving firmly and deliberately into the camp known as prosperity gospel.

        • Tim says:

          Thanks, Josh. The frugality practices seem relative, too. If I buy something used, does that really mean I’m living frugally? What if it’s a used car? That might mean I compare well with people in the States, but not people in developing countries. They don’t have a choice between new and used, because they can’t afford either. I might be managing my money well for an American, but not as a member of the kingdom of God; that’s the community that really counts.

    • Sarah says:

      I’ve had issues with Dave Ramsey for a long time, but I’ve had a hard time putting my finger on why. I think it has something to do with the mindset that if you just work hard enough, and do X, Y, and Z, then God will “bless” you with wealth. It’s a subtle form of the prosperity gospel.

      Yes. This exactly.

  9. I read that list too – and I didn’t see it as insulting poor people, I saw it as an evaluation of the habits of the chronically broke and the financially independent. At the beginning of the post he does say where he got these numbers from – another website.
    And the point he’s making – which I think is a pretty valid point, actually – is that the thing which separates the chronically broke from the financially independent is not income, but habits. He is showing how if people want to move from being chronically broke to being financially independent, they need to get more disciplined in every area of their life.
    The point is not that it’s reading or food or audiobooks that makes people rich – the point is that these things all show discipline, and discipline is the key to getting out of debt and poverty.
    I personally, as someone who is in debt and would desperately like to get out, find this information helpful and hopeful – and I feel encouraged to bring more discipline into my life.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment, LP. I agree that leaving debt behind can take discipline. A number of other factors are involved as well, but discipline might certainly be one of them.

      One glaring problem with promoting this kind of list, though, is it suggests just the kind of cause and effect you see in it. There’s nothing to support that connection. And what kind of nonsense is it to say that more poor people speak their mind than rich people? It’s meaningless tripe.

      • I understand that unjust social structures can keep the poor poor and make the rich richer. This is actually one of the great qualms that God had with Israel, which is the main theme of much of the Minor Prophets. This is something that very few Christians today know about or care about in their über-Republican American Christianity. I don’t believe this is right, and I do believe that one of our callings is to help those who are the most vulnerable in society and fight against social structures which keep them down.
        That being said, you say there is nothing that supports a connection between a lack of self-discipline and poverty? Are you kidding? The fact is that some people are poor because of unjust social structures – but many other people (like some of my neighbors, church members and friends) are poor because of a lack of discipline and a continually making bad decisions.
        Regarding speaking your mind: that too shows discipline. Here are some scriptures about it:
        Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Proverbs 21.23)
        There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Prov. 12.18)
        Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Prov. 17.28)
        Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! (Psalm 141.3)
        Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (Prov. 18.21)

        • Tim says:

          I didn’t say there is no connection. I said that Ramsey’s reckless list fails to show a cause and effect relationship. And who actually believes the wealthy don’t speak their mind? Anyone? Anyone at all? Nope, it’s hogwash.

      • Kelly says:

        Tim, read Ruby Payne’s A FRAMEWORK FOR UNDERSTANDING POVERTY, now required reading for most education students. It DOES solidly prove the connection that exists. Ramsey should have cited it in his list.

    • Melody says:

      Did you go to that other website? I did. No sources are mentioned there either.

      • Tim says:

        I went there before writing this post and noticed the same absence of sources, Melody. For Ramsey to adopt them without vetting them and then giving the support for his readers is sloppy work. We are all left to,wonder if they have any validity at,all. His decision to,reproduce the list without more checking is not a good practice for an organization that promotes careful stewardship of resources.

  10. Bronwyn Lea says:

    I agree with Ramsey’s encouragement to people that they should not live a life characterized by debt, but that’s about where it stops. We have been reading through the gospel of Luke! considering Jesus’ radical words about generosity, being “rich towards God”, and stewardship of possessions. It is hard to imagine serving both God and Ramsey 🙂

    • Tim says:

      One of my big problems with the list, too, is how it puts people down. There’s no way that list can be read as serving God and the people he’s put in our lives. Unless you want to focus just on wealthy people. It’s loads of encouragement for them

    • It seems to me that you are misrepresenting him. I hear DR talking about radical generosity, even before you work your way out of debt. Give the guy a fair shake.

      • Tim says:

        Ramsey does tell people they should be generous, that’s true. Doesn’t excuse his horrible treatment of the poor in that list, though.

        • Lyndsay says:

          I agree the list is very patronizing. However, I do think that LP has some good points in his rebuttals. I too know a LARGE number of people who are in financial trouble because of bad habits,and poor choices. Ramsy has done himself a disservice by characterizing the differences with such broad brush strokes (Rich vs. Poor). As Andy Stanley so eloquently put it “if you make 50,000k a year in North America, you are among the wealthy 4% in the world.” We are ALL rich. If we are posting on this blog, buying the TV’s we then pay to watch, or typing on our hand held devices, our “poor” are still rich in comparison. I think the bigger issue in Ramsy’s post is that it is ultimately meaningless. What does this knowledge add to our lives? How does this characterization promote compassion? For either the rich OR the poor? It won’t. It just brings divisions. Rich depersonalize the poor for not being self-sufficient, and the poor hate the rich for their ‘excess’. What would be better is if we ALL look at our position relative to the rest of the world, and seek out ways we can be generous in our community, family, Church, home, and internationally (in spirit and with our wealth)!!

        • Tim says:

          Exactly, Lyndsay. The nonsense in this list is needlessly divisive. The Bible says the only dividing line we have is Scripture itself, the two-edged sword.

        • Lyndsay – you are absolutely right that the biggest problem with DR’s post is the use of the words “rich” and “poor”. First of all – these are relative terms, as you point out. Secondly – Jesus spoke of the poor in a loving, respectful way, and encouraged us to treat them with dignity. The Bible consistently tells us that our treatment of the poor is a litmus test of where we are at spiritually.
          It is a poor choice of terms. However, I do see this list as useful for the reasons I have already stated – it tells people who are chronically broke because of their lack of discipline and self-control that it is possible to change your habits, and if you change your habits you really can climb out of poverty.
          I don’t think that DR’s work only promotes division between classes; I think he gives people useful tools for getting out of debt and helping others get out of debt. That is something that can really help the poor – not just another handout, and not just pity or sympathy.
          The fact is, if we are talking about unjust social structures – one of the greatest of these is the credit companies that victimize the poor. It is they who are the cause of much of the continued poverty in our country – and there IS poverty in our country, because wages are relative to cost of living. I lived in Hungary for 10 years and made $5000/year and lived comfortably. You can’t do that in the US, because the cost of living is so much higher.

        • Kelly says:

          Tim, Ramsey doesn’t “treat” the poor horribly in this article; he lays out patterns of choice that are endemic of those in that socio-economic cluster. There’s research out there to back up the behaviors he lists; fault him more for not citing his sources.

      • Bronwyn Lea says:

        Thanks for that. I confess I haven’t heard him speak much directly. My impression has been formed by the reports of what a dozen or so friends say they have learned from him. None of them have mentioned radical generosity, but to be fair none of them have mentioned that they look down on poor people as a result either. I apologize if I over-spoke.

  11. Sarah says:

    Praying that with you and have been for a while now. His views have bothered me since I first heard about him years ago and I’ve been frustrated in the past with Christianity’s acceptance and neutrality towards them. Thanks for posting this — it’s reassuring to know others are seeing how problematic his views are.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Sarah. For all the people he has helped out of debt, I don’t see that as an endorsement of his work spiritually. The fruit of the spirit is not an increased bank balance, but love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. I see none of those directed to the poor through that list.

      • Kelly says:

        When a person can unshackle themselves from debt, their attention can better be focused on other things, such as serving God. Would you rather have a person that is crushed with debt and working multiple jobs or a person that is debt-free (or on the way) that can then focus on how GOOD life is, rather than face the ongoing depression of a school of debtors?

  12. jenmuse says:

    Thanks Tim. I’m not a fan of DR. I sat through one of his leadership programs in 2011 and noticed a deeply troubling strain of insidious misogyny.

    DR stressed often and emphatically that leaders should be above reproach. I understand the desire and command to be above reproach, but refusing to ride in an elevator with a woman in the off chance that she’s conspiring with others to obtain a compromising photo is not just paranoid (though it is) but insulting. Vigilance against advances is good, paranoia that paints all women with the same brush is wrong.

    It is not according respect to women to suspect all of them of seeking to trap men of stature just by riding an elevator, or for that matter carpooling with a male co-worker.

    Plus sexual ethics are not restricted to gender alone. Would Dave Ramsay ride in an elevator alone with a homosexual male? I suspect not, but how does he know he hasn’t? Sexual orientation isn’t necessarily obvious to the eye.

    And don’t even get me started on the narcissism that assumes one is important enough to be the target of elaborate and not-so-elaborate conspiracies.

    But the bottom line is what would Jesus do? Just so happens that we know exactly what he would do, because he encountered a woman of loose morals at a well while his disciples were away. He showed her respect, kindness, and love. He restored her dignity, confronted her sin, and gently corrected her errors in understanding. He did not go find another well.

    In addition, the command is to be above reproach, not to appear above reproach. When you have integrity, you don’t have to go out of your way to defend it. It defends itself. The truth will win, and Truth attends to itself.

    But back to the underlying misogyny: not one of the film clips used to illustrate a point included women. Not just no women in leadership but no women in the scenes!

    And then there is the repeated use of Braveheart. Is it a great film? Yes. Did it deserve a couple academy awards? Maybe. Does the main character commit unrepentant adultery (and murder)? Why yes, yes he does. He sleeps with the daughter-in-law of the king (and assassinates the nobles who betrayed him). Are women in this film (of which there are what 3?) treated as humans or are they just a reward/motivation for the man? Dave Ramsay says emphatically (and often) that in the Dave Ramsay organization, adultery is grounds for dismissal, yet he repeatedly holds up as an example of leadership a character who committed adultery (and murder)? Talk about mixed messages.

    Why not just use King David who did all of those things but also includes confession, repentance, and restoration? Cause that might mean not firing an adulterer?

    DR also used lots of sports similes (and 2 film clips: basketball and hockey) which typically exclude women because the vast majority of us don’t play them (the WNBA is working on changing that).

    There are plenty of activities which have a singular aim and include women. Team triathlons for one, partner dancing (dancing is a actually a great lesson in servant leadership cause the man’s job is to help the woman move gracefully and beautifully and when he fails it is very clear to everyone), couples figure skating (same concept), marching band (this is probably the best one because it is about more than 2 people and goes beautifully with the clip from the conductor), competitive cheer-leading to name a few. By not including at least one, he is telling women that he doesn’t care if we don’t understand, and that women need to adopt masculine views and habits to succeed.

    Now if he’s not trying to exclude and alienate women, then this lack of women and women friendly examples would mean that he’s too lazy or too unconcerned to go looking for gender inclusive clips. Here are just a few off the top of my head: Desk Set starring Katherine Hepburn, A League of Their Own (women and sports!), Helen Mirren in Gosford Park (she plays a servant for crying out loud), Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth, Captain Janeway from Star Trek, Judi Dench in just about anything (cause personally, I never tire of watching Judi Dench).

    And then there was his dismissive treatment of paternity leave and giving birth. Being flippant about that is nearly unforgivable in a man of considerable influence.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for all of this, Jen. Best line among a number of gems: “When you have integrity, you don’t have to go out of your way to defend it.” Yes!

      • jenmuse says:

        I totally forgot to point out that his comments about the poor in the post under discussion are really about women:

        Women in America are still 35 percent more likely than men to be poor in America, with single mothers facing the highest risk. Currently, 35 percent of single women with children live and raise their families in poverty.”

        source: http://www.legalmomentum.org/

  13. Lesley says:

    We took a Dave Ramsey class in the spring, and I loved how he emphasizes giving/tithing and radical generosity. That being said, his list was definitely a poor choice.

    • Tim says:

      Good points, Lesley. He can teach people to budget and give, but he sure seems to have a tin ear when it comes to how he speaks of people in poverty.

    • I also find that interesting, as studies have shown that the poor are more like to be generous. They might not have as much to give, but they give where it hurts, where those with more wealth are more likely to give of the excess.

      One of the list items that got me was the one about aerobic exercise. Does walking as a form of transportation (like those without cars have to do) not count as exercise?

      • Tim says:

        The walking commute should count something positive, Jennifer, but I couldn’t find it anywhere on that list of wealth-based superlatives.

        For what real generosity looks like, Jesus pointed to the same thing you brought up. A widow gives all she has, whole reach people drop in what they like from their excess. He wasn’t shy about which giving was better.

  14. Chris Pilon says:

    To say Dave Ramsey posted this list is true. But, if you look closely, it was written by someone else on another blog and posted by DRs team so I think you’re being a little misleading. Granted, there are some items on the list that I can see could be hurtful to some people. However, there are other items that are VERY true and definitely do not help people who are poor get out from under their circumstances. Speaking from experience (I have both taken and facilitated Financial Peace University), I have changed many of my habits so that my family can be better positioned to be fiscally responsible and ready for any emergency. I also believe that Dave Ramsey’s teachings have allowed me to “change my family tree” and help my kids become smart with money and also helped them to understand what being a true steward is. Sure, I suppose I would be a little put off by the list if I was not in the position I’m in now. But, I would also like to think that I would see the truths in that list and realize that I need to do something to change the direction I was heading in, not to mention my kids’ direction. Regardless of circumstances, we all must find ways to grow in our lives and the first step is realizing where we are and where we want to go. Without that realization, our circumstances will never change.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for reading, Chris. I know the list came from another website, but Ramsey’s responsible for it showing up at his blog. Does Ramsey have advice for people looking to handle money? Sure. Does this list advance the kingdom of God? Not by a long shot.

      • Does this list make people aware of their bad habits that are contributing to their remaining chronically broke and preventing them from breaking out of it? Definitely. I agree with Chris and think you are overstating your case about DR being terrible for posting this. At worst I see it as a poor choice of words to use the words poor and rich and not make the connection about the point he’s trying to make with this list (which he does in his other writing/speaking – that the biggest hindrance to people getting out of chronic poverty is not the amount of their wages, but the amount of their focus and discipline.)

        • Tim says:

          The way we say things matters in the kingdom of God. Every point made in that list is made at the expense of the poor. Nothing anyone has said in its defense changes that.

        • You obviously view him as insulting poor people. I see it as an analysis of behavioral patterns giving to challenge people, not to exalt one group over another.

  15. Rob Grayson says:

    In my rarely humble opinion, Jesus nailed what matters most about money in two short teachings, and Ramsey’s post proves the truth of both of them: you cannot serve both God and mammon, for you will end up hating the one and loving the other; and the love of mammon is the root of all kinds of evil.

  16. Mel R. says:

    Thank you for writing this post. I also read the list and my stomach turned. Where did they get these numbers? Most of them seem like ones pulled out of thin air. Who did they poll? What classifies you as “wealthy” or “poor”? We’re considered poor financially, but we’re not in debt, and we like our simple life. My children do not watch TV and they read and play a lot. I find it rather insulting the way this list was worded, #4 bothered me, was there any consideration in how people commute to work? Someone who takes a bus or walks to work and who doesn’t own a device for audio books makes it rather difficult to listen to one. I could go on and on but I’ve spent enough time thinking about this list. Time for me to move on. I will never be “wealthy” in the world’s eyes and I’m okay with that because I’m wealthy in so many other ways.

    • Tim says:

      Mel, those questions are the same I had. Undefined terms and unsourced statistics make the whole list look like it’s just someone’s idea of what they think might possibly be true. And then to do it in such a pejorative fashion? It’s insulting.

  17. MH_indy says:

    I’m sorry, but I feel this blog post here is much more irresponsible than the Dave Ramsey blog post, and I hope you give me a chance to explain why. Information is information. Dave’s team, posted some stats that were available to them and shared them on their blog, which falls within the very reason to have a blog: giving and exchanging information. No social commentary was added. It was just information.

    Unfortunately Tim, you decided to take that information and added your own social commentary. I’m calling you out in a way that you needed to be called out. I believe that we are called to live a life, as best as we can, in peace with one another (Romans 12:18), especially with people trying to make an impact for the kingdom like Dave Ramsey’s team does every day. Your comments above, “[Don’t you dare say what’s on your mind. Only poor people do that!]”, is your own social commentary and basically communicates that you are looking to snipe DR in any malicious way you can. Seriously, reread your post and tell me you didn’t assume the worst, basically chided another believer for nothing more than communicating information, and showed that you have a mean spirit towards this man?

    At the end of the day, I understand the blog business. These are BIG number posts, increasing the traffic because it commiserates with the lowest common denominator in who you are targeting. This is poor, and in my opinion, classless. I responded to your tweet the other day about how you “can’t imagine Jesus mentioning a single one of these statistics. Not a single one.” I will say again what I responded to you with: “Information is information”. Proverbs speaks to gaining as much knowledge as we can, and I believe this falls into that bucket.

    I hope you can hear the humbleness through the words that I am typing, and know that I too am the worst of offenders, and need God’s grace every hour. I just hope to not hear this kind of writing from you again. If you want to really do the kingdom of God some justice in the world of finances, attack the programs (lottery), institutions (check cashing), and systems that create poverty, not someone who works day-in-day-out, trying to help people beat those systems.

    Mh_indy on Twitter

    • Tim says:

      Of course I’ll give you a chance to have your say, Indy. But I think you are reading more into this post than is here. Just as you think I have assumed the worst of Dave Ramsey, it looks like you are doing the same here. I didn’t write this to get big numbers. I didn’t assume Ramsey actually meant to put down poor people.

      I did mean to show the someone who has sought to build a big following used a list of questionable information in a way that hurts people. I stand by that. Just because something has supposed “information” in it does not mean it is necessarily helpful. Ramsey should delete the post.

      As for writing on the things that prey on people, I have one on casinos that I’m working on now. Stay tuned if you’re interested!


      • MH_indy says:

        “I’m no longer neutral about his ministry. I’m praying for him to stop this type of hurtful enterprise, and until he does I’m also praying that people will discern for themselves whether he’s a source of sound advice or not.” In the Article

        “I didn’t assume Ramsey actually meant to put down poor people.”

        These two statements seem to be at odds with each other. I’m not going to waste either of our time by continuing this discussion, but I think it is irresponsible to make a whole lot of fuss about nothing. He offered information. He offers a plan out of poverty. He offers hope to people that have been abused by previously stated institutions and programs meant on keeping poor people poor. You offered divisive social commentary. That is the crux of it (at least for me), and I will gracefully move on to somewhere more constructive.


  18. Jay says:

    @Longmont Pastor and @Kelly

    Don’t cast your pearls before swine. They will distain the pearls and attack you.

    • Jay, I appreciate the sentiment – and I do feel like some people in this thread are missing the point, however I would not like to label them “swine”. I think that we are brothers and sisters – and we can disagree as family and discuss issues with cordiality.
      Although I disagree with Tim’s view on this issue, I do appreciate his gracious spirit.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Jay. I love you and I love Jesus!

      Your friendly neighborhood swine,

      P.S. You do know you took that swine thing out of context, right? Jesus used the metaphor in dealing with those who are outside God’s covenant community. If you want to use it against me, though, that’s between you and God, not between you and me. Blessings, brother!

      P.P.S. Calling us swine also falls outside this blog’s comment policy, but I’ll let your comment stand anyway. Blessings to you again!

  19. Melissa says:

    I’ve listened to Dave Ramsey for over two years on a daily basis, and he has helped my family financially, and spiritually. DR is a giver (if you’ve listened to his radio show for any length of time, you would know that). He has helped thousands of families, can we all say the same? –not just financially, but with relationships as well. Spouses have stayed together where they might have divorced over money (Do you know married couples who have split or are in terrible relationships because of money? I do.). Why must he be judged by others? “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:12. DR is not judging the poor. He’s not saying they are bad people…that they “turn his stomach” like the words used here against him. They are just statistics (whether you believe them or not).

    People are in all different circumstances financially. Some can be reached and some can’t. What if just one “poor” person saw or heard about DR’s list and decided they could change and took the steps to do so and changed their life. That’s a good thing, right?

    There are lots of people in the public eye whose opinions, actions, clothes, whatever, that I don’t believe in or agree with. Guess what? I just don’t watch or listen to them. We all have that choice.

    • Tim says:

      Melissa, Thanks for coming by.

      That list is unhelpful on so many levels. it’s not like people without money are going to read it and think, “I’ll start talking less and reading books and that will make me smarter with my money.” That’s not how it works. In fact, there’s no indication that there is a cause and effect relationship at all, and the fact that Mr. Ramsey couldn’t come up with any in his follow up post defending himself on using that list is telling.

      He may have helped a lot of people with his financial advice, but that doesn’t make this list a good thing. It’s not, and it should be taken down immediately.


      P.S. I never said Mr. Ramsey turned my stomach. But that list on his blog sure did.

  20. Ben Irwin says:

    I thought #11 was the weirdest/worst on the list. (Because, you know, it’s a good thing Jesus knew his place and kept his trap shut, especially when he was around wealthy & powerful people.)

    As for where Ramsey got his stats, I found a radio interview he did with Tim Corley (here: http://richhabits.net/dave-ramsey-rich-habits-tom-corley), in which Corley explained that he came up with his findings by surveying 361 people… 233 rich people and 128 (!) poor people. I studied statistics and research methodology in college, but you don’t need to have done so to know that a sample of 361 people cannot tell you anything meaningful about a population of 47 million. (That’s how many poor people there are in the US.) Using this “research” to make sweeping generalizations about the poor was irresponsible of Corley and Ramsey, plain and simple.

    • Tim says:

      That was the one that really stumped me too, Ben. No one knows what Corley and Ramsey mean by “say what’s on their mind” and the only explanations I’ve read are pure speculation.

      Your take on the statistics is helpful, too. That type of “evidence” would never hold up around my workplace, that’s for sure.

      Thanks for stopping by, Ben.


  21. Pingback: Rules for Women and Guidelines for the Poor – It’s All Legalism and It All Stinks | Tim's Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another

  22. jjohnny says:

    Tim, you are completely missing the point of what Dave Ramsey is doing. I guess you need something to talk about and this if you scrutinize hard enough can be talked about. Sure I can see what you are saying that some of these things could be taken offensively. I could all day look at the things that people say and take offense to them. I think that its all in how you look at it, I think most people would look at this and see how it could help. For example I look at it and see there are some habits that could help me to be smarter, and better with my money and have better health. I am not well off, but that doesn’t mean that I am taking offense to this, I try to look at how it could help me. Like most things in life, what can I learn that is good for me from this. But I don’t think you see that, I think that you’re looking at it all wrong.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for expressing your take on this in a constructive way, jjohnny. When you say it could be helpful, do you mean that someone who is poor can become wealthy by following these 20 items, or that these 20 items are things that people who already have money are able to do because they aren’t poor? That’s where the discussion has gone in the comments above, as you can see.


      • jjohnny says:

        Well, thank you for this blog, lots of interesting thoughts. I really don’t think that someone who is poor will become wealthy by doing these things, its not meant to be that simple. DR always says that to be more like rich people, or happy people, or friendly people or fill in the blank people then do what those people do. I do think that they are good things to do. Really for anybody to do, but I believe that the more good habits and things I do, the better I’ll be, regardless of my wealth level. i dont think its meant for any wealth level, I think he is trying to help people be better with their money. This is one way they can be, I don’t think that its meant to put down poor people. I think its showing ways for anybody to be wealthier, example don’t by as much crappy food, spend your money on healthier stuff that will be better for you and a better habit and in the long run will be a better choice.


  23. Smg says:

    Dave Ramsey’s getting out of debt advice is sound…is investing advice……..ehh. If he dropped his religion Side….he would be more platter fil. He told a woman today that she SHOULD NOT INVITE her down and out estranged dad to live with them…….what?? This is supposed to a christian program…and I am CONVINCED that people don’t like Christians simply because what they SAY to do is often difficult and sacrificing……so,for him to tell her that simply because it would not be a prosperous endeavor……true colors

  24. salley says:

    Thanks you for this awesome look into those who step on the poor to become rich .I do not see any money programs or dvd collections directed to those really in need .The workshops are expensive and I think if he were really concerned they would cost less .He would get a tax right off I’m sure .as for the comments about what the rich do versus the poor ,Their is such a gap between the elite and the poverty stricken ,that the only way they can comprehend is to give them hands on help .It hurts me to see people using Christ to sell their products.I question his motives and his integrity.55 million ,really ?
    I am a full time General Manager for Title Company and I make 60k a year. I do not have very much debt. I owe on a car and a home .I am able to help my children and that makes me feel good .If we give back God will bless us in return .If we use the simple fundamentals,Put God first ,and entrust in him .And that my friend is Completely free .Salley Beauvais

    • Tim says:

      I completely agree about the “gap between the elite and the poverty stricken”, Salley. That gap is not lessened by giving the poor 20 tips on how to act like rich people.

  25. The Dude says:


    I am not particularly evangelical, but I try very hard to be practical. Tim, I notice you are wearing a nice shirt and a tie in your photo, that seems pretty opulent when compared to those in some third world countries. Does that statement seem absurd to you? To the comment above, Dave does consider himself a pastor and is very evangelical and conservative, however he is also practical. He can reach the most people, help the most people, and make the most money (remind me why this is bad?), by putting some limits (not much though) on the evangelical message in his radio show and in his literature, and focusing more on a practical message. I don’t think Dave is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but the practical points of his message I agree with strongly! Being so faithful/foolish that you sit at home and do nothing but pray and love the lord will not feed or cloth you. You have to “work” to take care of your own house. The term “rich” was never defined in this article/list either. Lets define “rich” as having the ability to comfortably feed and clothe yourself, and have enough resources (Money or Time or Expertise) to share generously with others. There are systemic societal issues in this country and this world that severely hinder specific groups and will require much more than a food van from the local church; however we can all agree that some people do not know or care how to handle money, and giving them food or clothes without some education will be just like giving a man a fish and not teaching a man to fish (not teaching them independence). There are a lot of people who were never taught how to make wise financial decisions, handle money, or how to work through a bad financial situation. I think a detailed plan of action is a helpful/hopeful thing for those folks, and whether you call it the “Baby Steps” or something else, Financial Education is a good thing. So to the list specifically…..Do you think a disclaimer should have been written at the top of this page clearly defining “poor” and “rich”, or would it have been more palatable for the article to be titled “20 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Its true Dave obviously has a target audience (people with radios and at least the ability to buy a $20 book) who are not the very bottom economic rung in this country or any other. So if you don’t like him doesn’t hurt my feelings, but prove it by spending your resources helping others not knocking Dave or others who are helping at least some people.

    • Tim says:

      I admit that I and just about 100% of the people I know are rich by the world’s standards. So are you. As for using my resources to help those who are not rich, I don’t have to “prove it” as you suggest. I am to be faithful to God.

      As for Mr. Ramsey, if he wants to advise people on wise money habits, have at it. But if he posts a list like this as if it were a way to become wealthy, he’s misleading people. This is not a list of things to do to get wealthy. It’s a list of things people get to do once they are wealthy.

      • Rich says:

        Agree !
        Dave does not care to read about anything about wisdom that is biblical, he wants to pull out only parts that seem right to him , Proverbs 16:2 …..

        Dave is like Joel…… both bad . Selfishness is not what Jesus has taught us. Who do they live for ?
        Have they done the Bible study; The story?
        It’s not about us …….
        let’s dig in the word not the worlds ways ( the amarican dream ) is not biblical !
        Blessings = reverse tithing…..
        Mathew 19:23-24
        Mark 10:23-27
        Even a penny can block out the biggest star holding it close to your eye.
        By the way …… was Jesus Wealthy. What did he treasure ?

  26. David M says:

    You know, you did warn us about reading the rest of Ramsey’s list…why did I not listen? I don’t know if it’s ignorance or arrogance but it did make me want to wretch. But, it makes total sense if you are about establishing ‘your’ kingdom within an empire. Been there and will not go back.

  27. Rich says:

    Dave does not care to read about anything about wisdom that is biblical, he wants to pull out only parts that seem right to him , Proverbs 16:2 …..

    Dave is like Joel…… both bad . Selfishness is not what Jesus has taught us. Who do they live for ?
    Have they done the Bible study; The story?
    It’s not about us …….
    let’s dig in the word not the worlds ways ( the amarican dream ) is not biblical !
    Blessings = reverse tithing…..
    Mathew 19:23-24
    Mark 10:23-27
    Even a penny can block out the biggest star holding it close to your eye.
    By the way …… was Jesus Wealthy. What did he treasure ?

  28. Ruth says:

    Why would anyone listen to a man who, although great at ‘spin talk’, and raising his own wealth level, can’t do Arithmetic 101? There are more unemployed people than there are jobs, so how does following a list create wealth, especially when benefits are limited and the economy a wreck.
    God made something out of nothing, but we certainly can’t. True unemployment, homelessness and health issues need proper funding and infrastructure to become managble.
    Is this why Christ reminded us the poor would always be with us I wonder.
    We have just become an unemployed couple, having been through losing everything once, we are facing these losses again, and I can sure see this Pharasaical person has never known want, he seems a user of misery to line his own pockets.
    God will provide, as he has before, and no, we won’t be giving up our coffee, even the ‘poor’ are entitled to some of the usual things of life!! 🌻

    • Tim says:

      Ruth, I am so sorry to hear of the financial straits you’ve entered. In all your family has gone through you’ve always faced it with grace and confidence in the Spirit’s work in your life. I’m praying for you all.

      • Ruth says:

        Thankyou Tim, it is a great comfort to know you are praying for us. I guess we can use this experience to help with our work on the pastoral care team at church, our home group where most are including us are 60ish, lend our experience to a women’s group who need to know coping skills, and generally stretch us a lot!
        We have a wonderful network of all ages in our church, and our pastors are all lovely people with good hearts and families. God gave us great riches there indeed.
        Our problems are small compared to so many, but still a little tiring.
        But, two weddings to enjoy and two lovely DILs to look forward to, especially as we are totally included in everything going on! Such delight in it all, how I will miss my young men coming home from work to mum, and then going out with their girls.
        ‘We will be home lots mum, we like it here’, says son number one.
        ‘We can live with you for a long time mum’ says couple number two, so what’s not to love?
        Enjoy it all, and wait on God….yes indeed! 🌻

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